May presses on with bid to get Brexit deal through parliament

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May presses on with bid to get Brexit deal through parliament

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the results strengthened ministers' view that their deal was "the best option".

By AP, IANS, Reuters

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Published: Thu 28 Mar 2019, 10:33 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Mar 2019, 1:19 AM

None of the eight Brexit options proposed by British lawmakers have secured clear backing in a series of votes in the House of Commons after Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans failed to win the House.
Speaker John Bercow on Wednesday had hoped the process agreed by the House would allow for a second stage of debate and "there was no reason it should not work out," he had wished. However, none of the options appealed to the majority.
Wednesday's objective was to "shortlist" a number of options before moving on to consider the "most popular". Barclay appealed to MPs to back the May's deal "in the national interest" when it returns to the House for a third time - which could happen as soon as Friday.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the results strengthened ministers' view that their deal was "the best option", as the eight other options laid down before the House, including a customs union with the EU and a referendum on any deal failed to garner majority votes.
May is pressing on with efforts to get her Brexit deal approved by parliament, meeting Conservative colleagues and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party.
May, who has offered to quit in return for the support of Conservative lawmakers for her deal, is focused on getting it through parliament, the spokesman said, adding that she continued to believe her agreement was the best available.
Here's a look at what might happen next:
With Brexit deadlocked amid feuding between Britain's political factions, lawmakers voted to upend the usual parliamentary procedure, in which the government decides the schedule for debates and votes. The House of Commons carved out time for legislators to hold a series of "indicative votes" on alternatives to May's defeated deal.
The results of Wednesday's votes were inconclusive, with none of the eight options gaining a majority. The most popular were a proposal to remain in a customs union with the bloc and a plan to put any divorce deal that is approved to a public referendum.
Lawmakers behind the move plan to hold another day of votes on Monday in an attempt to narrow down the proposals to one idea that can gain a majority - then to send the government back to negotiate it with the EU. The government says Parliament's move sets "a dangerous, unpredictable precedent," but has promised to "engage constructively" with the result of the votes. But ministers say any plan agreed by Parliament must be "realistic" and negotiable with the EU.
May hasn't given up hope that the deal she agreed with the bloc setting out the terms of Britain's withdrawal will be passed by Parliament, even though it has been rejected twice by hefty margins.
In a last-ditch bid to win over opponents in her Conservative Party, May announced that she would step down if the deal is approved and Britain leaves the European Union.
The news was enough to secure support from some pro-Brexit Conservatives, who think May has been a weak negotiator opposite the EU. But, the Democratic Unionist Party, refused to budge in its opposition to the deal.
Under an extension granted by the EU, if UK lawmakers approve the divorce deal by Friday - UK's departure date - Britain will leave the EU on May 22. If they don't, Britain has until April 12 to tell the EU what it plans to do next: leave without a deal, risking chaos, or seek a long delay to Brexit and chart a course toward a softer exit or even remaining in the bloc. 
Opposition politicians think the only way forward is an early election that could rearrange Parliament and break the political deadlock.
And anti-Brexit campaigners haven't abandoned the idea of a new Brexit referendum on remaining in the EU. There's no majority for that in Parliament yet, but pro-referendum campaigners feel opinion is shifting in their favor.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched through London on Saturday to demand a new Brexit vote.

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